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Driver who killed woman at Charlottesville rally may have felt threatened: witness

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Lawyers for the white nationalist on trial for murder after plowing his car into a crowd protesting a right-wing rally in Virginia began their case on Wednesday with testimony to back up his defense that he felt endangered by the counterprotesters.

James Fields, 21, does not dispute being at the wheel of the car that killed a woman and injured others protesting the “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville on Aug. 12, 2017. Field has said he acted in self-defense, and his lawyers called on the testimony of a man who also attended the rally and said he felt afraid.

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The violent chaos at the rally became a pivotal moment in the resurgence of white nationalist fringe groups in the United States.

The first defense witness, Hayden Calhoun, told the jury he had attended the rally with his girlfriend. He said he met Fields for the first time the night before the car incident, when men with torches marched in a park, chanting anti-Semitic slogans.

“The area had erupted in violence,” Calhoun said. “There was a brawl going on. Tear gas had been deployed.”

Calhoun said he and his girlfriend feared being attacked by counterprotesters.

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After meeting Fields and a fourth rally attendee, Calhoun said he and his girlfriend, seeing safety in numbers, decided to walk with them. He described Field’s demeanor the night before he drove into the crowd as “calm, tired.”

In cross-examination, Calhoun told prosecutors that, despite their fears, there were “no physical attacks” on Calhoun or the other people with him.

Fields was one of hundreds of white nationalists who descended on Charlottesville that week to protest the planned removal of a statue honoring the U.S. Civil War-era Confederacy from a public park.

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Earlier this week, jurors heard that the day before going to Charlottesville, Fields exchanged cellphone text messages with his mother suggesting the counterprotesters would “need to be careful,” and sent her an image of Adolf Hitler.

After his arrest, Fields broke down in tears at the police station upon learning he had killed someone, according to video footage shown to the jury.

Fields, faces 10 charges for his role in the violence, including murder, which carries a maximum sentence of life in prison if he is convicted.

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Fields also faces separate federal hate crime charges, which carry a potential death sentence. He has pleaded not guilty in that case as well.

Writing by Jonathan Allen; Editing by Frank McGurty and Jonathan Oatis


Report typos and corrections to: [email protected].
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Trump supporter flattened for pushing debunked Biden smear: This is what ‘happens in a banana republic’

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Appearing on MSNBC early Sunday morning, a supporter of Donald Trump attempted to push the debunked smear of Joe Biden and his son only to have a critic of the president explain to him that he should be outraged at Trump for once again seeking foreign interference in U.S. elections.

Running a clip of the former vice president firing back at Trump and telling reporters they need to ask the right questions, host Philip Mena asked Liberty Government Affairs founder Brian Darling what he thought of Biden pushing back.

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Kellyanne Conway lashes out at Democratic voters as ‘racist and sexist’ at Ohio GOP dinner

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Making an appearance at a Republican Party dinner in Columbus, Ohio, Kellyanne Conway accused Democratic voters of being "racist and sexist," in a diatribe as she tried to boost the fortunes of her boss, President Donald Trump.

According to a report from Cincinnati.com, Conway attacked the leading Democratic presidential nominees before making her claim.

“Their top three candidates are white, career politicians in their 60s and 70s, which I have nothing against except they (Democrats) certainly do,” Conway reportedly told the crowd. “I don’t know why the heck the Democratic party electorate is so racist and sexist. I can’t figure it out.”

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Betsy DeVos’ DOE threatens to cut university funding for positive portrayal of Islam

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The U.S Department of Education threatened to pull federal funding from a Middle East studies course jointly run by Duke University and the University of North Carolina because it portrays Islam too positively.

The DOE ordered the universities to change their program or lose its federal grant money. In a letter to UNC, the department criticized the program, arguing that topics like Iranian art and film have “little or no relevance” to the Middle East studies program. The letter also argues that the program “appears to lack balance” because its programs are not focused on the discrimination faced by “religious minorities in the Middle East," including Christians and Jews.

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